The Faculty Ombudsperson Office offers periodic brown bag lunch workshops on issues that arise in practice. These include strategies for conflict resolution, interpersonal communication, and increasing dignity, respect and inclusion. Below is a sampling of some of the workshops that we have offered.

All members of the campus community are welcome to attend.

Please feel free to contact McKenna Lang, the Faculty Ombudsperson, with questions, event suggestions, etc. at 206-296-5898.

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Conflict Resolution

Conflict De-Escalation

“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.” ― Eckhart Tolle

Conflict can be challenging, especially in difficult times, but many of us yearn for peace. How can we find elements of peace in conflict? One method is to step back, endeavor to listen carefully, and try to understand. Taking the time to really listen and reflect may help us learn something new and deepen understanding, and prioritizing peace can also help us identify pathways for de-escalation.

Discussion of “Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings” by Joy Harjo

Trees of ashes wave good-bye to good-bye and the map appears to disappear. We no longer know the names of the birds here, how to speak to them by their personal names. Once we knew everything in this lush promise.  – Joy Harjo

Some modern approaches to conflict resolution seem strong and assured. But voices from many cultures teach us to connect and to think about our connections, and to learn, if we can listen. Many of these speak to deep conflicts. Renowned poet Joy Harjo is one of these voices. How do we listen? Can we listen differently? Please join us for a reflective discussion and listening of “Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings.” In this safe space we will have a gently facilitated brown bag workshop.

De-escalating Conflict

Conflict:  Etymology:  < Latin conflict-, participial stem of conflīgĕre to strike together, clash, conflict, contend, fight (whence the frequentative conflictāre), < con- together + flīgĕre to strike. No corresponding verb is recorded in French dicts.; Italian has confliggere, conflissi, conflitto. (OED, 2015). Sometimes when we are embroiled in conflict, we want to de-escalate the situation in order to reach a better outcome. How do we de-escalate and avoid fanning the flames? In this brown bag workshop, we will consider ten steps towards de-escalating conflict.   

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Interpersonal Communication 

Compassionate Communication

“Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion. - Dalai Lama

Some say there are three primary types of communication: verbal, written and non-verbal. According to Ethnologue, there are nearly 7,000 world languages. There are about 250,000 distinct words in English, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

But just one positive word - a single kind word - can be quite powerful, catalyzing ripples of compassion. Drawing on the work of scholars on compassionate communication, we will begin a discussion of words of kindness and ways to pivot. Please join us for a brown bag discussion and reflection on the language of compassion.

Exiting the Bullring - Lessons from Ferdinand, a Brave Little Bull

Decorative: Bulls in a field


Bullying can be painful, but how do we chose to respond? In the children’s book “The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf, Ferdinand the Bull took a decidedly different stance from his colleagues choosing peace over bullfighting. Mahatma Ghandi called this his favorite book, but it was banned and burned in many countries, including Nazi Germany.

What can we learn from Ferdinand? Can we step back from Bullying? Can we step out of the Bullring? In this safe space we will have a gently facilitated brown bag workshop and discuss a ways to take a step back from bullying situations. 

Craft of Cooperation – A Workshop on Cultivating Civility and Everyday Diplomacy

"In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed." - Charles Darwin

We often talk about collaboration and cooperation – two related constructive processes. There is increasing emphasis in higher education for both cooperation and collaboration as we work together and share resources.

The National Institutes of Health and other research institutions have promoted funding initiatives for Team Science and interdisciplinary teams. But real collaboration and cooperation can be very challenging. We will engage with the following central questions: What does it take to collaborate? What does it take to cooperate? The sociologist Richard Sennett talks about Cooperation as a craft that can be learned and honed.

This interactive brown bag workshop will provide tools on cooperation, collaboration and everyday diplomacy with ideas drawn from Richard Sennett, Team Science research and others. Workshop materials provided. 

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Dignity, Respect, and Inclusion

Emmanuel Levinas: The Ethics of the Other

Emmanuel Levinas (1905-1995) was a Lithuanian born French Philosopher. He is known for, among other things, his study of phenomenology and the writing of ethics. Surviving a prisoner of war camp in World War II, he focused some of his work on what is sometimes called the “Ethics of the Other.” He posits that more than a relationship, we have a responsibility for “the Other.” In these turbulent times, some gentle and reflective voices rise with strength. Please join us in a brown bag discussion and reflection on a few excerpts from the beautiful and deep work of Levinas and the “Face of the Other.” 

Extending Dignity

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  Maya Angelou

Many of us agree that extending dignity and respect are critical actions. But what does this look like?  How do we do this? How do we demonstrate ideals such as: Recognition, Inclusion, and Understanding? One way is to consider the ideas and elements of dignity which emanate from the work of Desmond Tutu and Donna Hicks. Extending dignity can also be very helpful in resolving conflict. Please join us in a brown bag discussion and reflection on ways to extend dignity. We will practice extending dignity. 

Compassionate Management

 “We are each made for goodness, love and compassion. Our lives are transformed as much as the world is when we live with these truths.” Desmond Tutu

There is increasingly compelling data and research demonstrating that compassion and strengths based approaches in the workplace can improve productivity and profit. The theory and applications of psychological safety in learning organizations are helping to build these ideas in various sectors. But what does compassion look like? Where does it start? Does it honor difference? Join us for a gently facilitated discussion on compassion in the workplace.

Appreciative Inquiry: Finding New Possibilities

Yesterday is but today's memory, and tomorrow is today's dream.” - Kahlil Gibran

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is the cooperative search for the best in people, their organizations, and the world around them. It involves systematic discover of what gives a system ‘life’ when it is most effective and capable in economic, ecological, and human terms. AI involves the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to heighten positive potential. In this brown bag workshop, we will explore Appreciative Inquiry.

Resources for Facilitating Differing Worldviews

 “Each moment is a chance for us to make peace with the world. ” -Tich Nhat Hahn

It may be said that we often co-construct meaning in our world. In these changing and conflicting times we can lean into the fluidity of mutually respectful dialogues. As we navigate worlds of difference, there are some resources we might call upon to engage in new ways: creating conversational spaces, coordinating multiplicities, finding appreciative and cooperative paths. How can we develop new ways to listen? Can we suspend the need for agreement? In this gently facilitated brown bag workshop, we will consider some of these possibilities.

The Science of Compassion

If we say, oh, the practice of compassion is something holy, nobody will listen. If we say, warm-heartedness really reduces your blood pressure, your anxiety, your stress and improves your health, then people pay attention.”  Dalai Lama

Respected academic researchers like Stanford neurosurgeon James Doty note that: “rigorous empirical data supports the view of all major world religions: compassion is good.” Can compassion help us to bridge differences and build understanding? And what is meant by the science of compassion? In this brown bag workshop, we will explore compassion.

Intentional Inclusion - A Dialogue with Rosetta Lee

decorative: bouquet of flowers

A lot of different flowers make a bouquet.  – Muslim origin

In-clusion. How do we make room in the circle? How do we create an environment of intentional inclusion? In this gently facilitated brown bag workshop we will discuss ways to foster intentional inclusion.

Dignity Arising - A Dialogue on Dignity

We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion. And in giving each other the gift of space, we need also to offer the gifts of grace and beauty to which each of us is entitled.”  Max DePree

The word dignity has ancient origins from the Latin dignitāt-em merit, worth, < dignus worthy (OED).  A yearning for dignity is increasingly expressed in ombudsing, but what do we mean by human dignity? Why does it matter? How can we extend and receive it? Concepts of dignity seem to transcend cultural and other boundaries. The scholar Donna Hicks lists inclusion and acceptance of identity among the essential elements of dignity. This brown bag lunch will provide a gently facilitated, participatory dialogue on ideas of dignity drawn from Donna Hicks, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Max DePree and others.